Religious Tolerance and Islam

The Swiss have voted to ban the construction of minarets in their country. Minarets are architectural symbols of the Islamic faith, towers (freestanding or connected to mosques) with an onion- or crown-shaped top. Currently there are four minarets in Switzerland.

Many believe the ban is a product of Islamaphobia. From the BBC article:

The president of Zurich's Association of Muslim Organisations, Tamir Hadjipolu, told the BBC: "This will cause major problems because during this campaign mosques were attacked, which we never experienced in 40 years in Switzerland.

"Islamaphobia has increased intensively."

And there was dismay among Switzerland's Muslims upon hearing the result.

Farhad Afshar, president of the Coordination of Islamic Organisations in Switzerland, said: "The most painful thing for us is not the ban on minarets but the symbol sent by this vote.

"Muslims do not feel accepted as a religious community."

Elham Manea, co-founder of the Forum for a Progressive Islam, added: "My fear is that the younger generation will feel unwelcome.

"It's a message that you are not welcome here as true citizens of this society."
Nate Silver does an analysis of the Swiss vote finding a strong relationship between Christianity and voting for the ban:
There may be variables other than religious and linguistic status at work here -- I can't exactly claim to be expert on the demographics of Switzerland. But it appears at first glance that this indeed reflects some degree of fear, dislike, or anxiety about Muslims -- and by Christians.
Silver goes on to wonder if similar bans aren't in America's future. America has a strong history of religious tolerance, but some of the teabag paranoia about our country being taken over by Muslims makes me wonder. The whole "Christian nation" deal on the right, the longing for a theocracy, makes me think, if the Muslim population grows in the US, that such bans will start to show up on American ballots.

The War on Christmas is only the beginning...

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2 thoughts on “Religious Tolerance and Islam”

  1. So, what do you think, Richard? Should the Swiss ban the Minarets? I kept reading and hoping for an opinion.

    I use to live 3 blocks from my neighborhood minaret in Pakistan -- hated it. Loud speaker prayers 5 times a day. In china they had loud speakers all over giving Party pep talks all during the day. Nauseating.

    I would zone them out of my town !

  2. Sabio,
    Excellent point. From what I understand, the minarets in Switzerland do not ring out the prayers. If they did, I would be fully on the side of banning them.

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